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Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 29

In His Letter to the Philippians (continued)

Triumph In the Philippian Christians

And this triumph was not only in Christ and in Paul, but in the Philippians. It is a beautiful letter of the triumph of Divine grace in these Philippians. You can see it,firstly, in their response; and you really need to know something about Philippi in those days. You get just a little idea from what happened to Paul. You know about the pagan temple with its terrible system of women slaves, and all that is bound up with that horrible thing. As Paul and his companions went through the streets of Philippi, one of these young women, described as having a spirit of Python, a soothsaying demon, a veritable possession of satan, persistently followed and cried out after them.

That is the sort of city that Philippi was, and Paul finds it possible to write a letter of this kind to believers in a city like that. Is that not triumph? I think that there should ever be a church in Philippi at all is something, but a church like this is something more. And it is not only in their response to the gospel, which cost them so much. Look again at the letter, and see the mutual love which they had one for another. This is indeed a jewel in the crown of Jesus Christ. This letter has been called Paul's great love letter. The whole thing overflows with love, and it is because of the love which they had for one another. Love of this kind is not natural. This is the work of Divine grace in human hearts. It speaks of a great triumph. If there is anything to add, we may recall that, when Paul was in need, it was these people who thought about his need and sent for his help and his succour. They are concerned for the man to whom they owed so much for the gospel.

Well, all that constitutes this tremendous triumph. It is a letter of triumph, is it not? We have proved our point, I think. I repeat: This is the gospel! But Paul says that these people at Philippi, these believers, are exemplary - they are an example; and so what we have to do at the end of this review is to ask: 'Just what is the gospel so far as this letter is concerned? What is the good news here, the good tidings? How can this kind of thing be repeated or reproduced?

The Secret of the Triumph

We are not dealing with people of peculiar virtues, a specially fine type of person. It is just man, poor, frail humanity: out of that can such a thing be repeated, reproduced? Can we hope for anything like this now? It would be good news if it could be proved to us that there is a way of reproducing this is not merely something which relates to an isolated company of people who lived long centuries ago, but that it can be true today - that this gospel, this good news, is for us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 30)

Do We Call It Dying When the Bud Bursts Into Flower?

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord" (Phil. 3:8).

This is the happy season of ripening cornfields, of the merry song of the reapers, of the secured and garnered grain. But let me hearken to the sermon of the field. This is its solemn word to me. You must die in order to live. You must refuse to consult your own case and well-being. You must be crucified, not only in desires and habits which are sinful, but in many more which appear innocent and right. If you would save others, you cannot save yourself. If you would bear much fruit, you must be buried in darkness and solitude.

My heart fails me as I listen. But, when Jesus asks it, let me tell myself that it is my high dignity to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings; and thus I am in the best of company. And let me tell myself again that it is all meant to make me a vessel meet for His use. His own Calvary has blossomed into fertility; and so shall mine.

Plenty out of pain, life out of death: is it not the law of the Kingdom?
--In the Hour of Silence

Do we call it dying when the bud bursts into flower?

"Finding, following, keeping, struggling,
Is He sure to bless?
Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,
Answer, 'Yes."'

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 28

In His Letter to the Philippians (continued)

Triumph In Paul's Ministry (continued)

God can get a lot by putting aside our cherished plans, and upsetting everything for us. - But we continue. Paul came to Philippi. And the devil knew that he had come, and got to work and said, in effect, 'Not if I can prevent it, Paul! I will make this place too hot for you to stay here!" And he got to work, and before long Paul with his companions were found in the inner dungeon of the prison, their feet made fast, chains upon them, bleeding from the lashing that they had received. Well, this does not seem to say much for Divine guidance! Where is the victory in this? But wait. The very jailer and his household were saved that night. They came to the Lord and were baptized. And when, years afterwards, in this other prison in Rome, Paul wrote  this letter to the saints he had left in Philippi, he put in a phrase like this: "my brethren beloved and longed for" (Phil. 4:1). I like to think that the jailer and his family were included in this. "Brethren beloved and longed for". And in the same letter he says: "i would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel" (1:12). It is a picture of triumph, is it not? - the triumph in his life and in his ministry.

Triumph In Paul's Sufferings

And he triumphed in his sufferings. He says something about his sufferings in this very letter, the sufferings which were upon him as he wrote; but it is all in a note and spirit of real triumph. He says: "As always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death" (1:20). No ting of despair about that, is there? 'Even now, as it has always been, Christ must be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.' That is triumph. Yes, that is triumph, that is joy.

But more, he said, 'Christ manifested in my bonds'. A wonderful thing, this! Brought to Rome, chained to a Roman guardian soldier, never allowed more than a certain measure of liberty - and yet you cannot silence this man! He has got something that 'will out' all the time, and he says it has gone throughout the whole Praetorian guard (1:13). If you knew something about the Praetorian guard, you would say, "That is triumph!" In the very headquarters of Caesar, and a Caesar such as he was, the gospel is triumphant. It is being spoken about throughout the whole Praetorian guard! Yes, there is triumph in his sufferings, in his bonds, in his afflictions. This is not just words. It is a glorious triumph; and this is the gospel in action, the gospel in expression.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 29)

Seven Ways to Grow As A Disciple of Jesus


7 Ways to Grow

Seven Ways to Grow as a Disciple of Jesus 

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20

Holy Scripture gives us principles related to growing as a disciple of Jesus Christ:

Believe

Belief in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord gives you eternal life in heaven. Believe in the cross of Christ as payment for your sin. Believe in the resurrection of Jesus, as your living Lord—who is your life. By grace through faith in Jesus is how we become a Christian and by grace through faith in Jesus is how we grow as a Christian. Belief is trust. In the same way a child trusts good parents—so we trust our good heavenly Father. Believe God and His Word.

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).

Repent and Be Baptized

Repentance means you turn from your sin. Then publicly confess Christ in baptism. Conversion is a change of mind about God. Post salvation we love and fear Him. Our great devotion to God and our awe of His glory cause us to love what the Lord loves and hate what He hates—sin. We repent daily so we represent Jesus well. We confess our sin and receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. Baptism is evidence of our faith. Our transformation within is illustrated by baptism without. Symbolically, we are buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in life anew!

“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).

Obey

Obedience is an indicator of our love for the Lord Jesus and His presence in our life. Our faith is validated by what we do. If we say we love Jesus on Sunday, but we act like He doesn’t exist the other six days of the week—is our faith for real? God’s will may be unclear, but we still remain faithful in what is clear. We trust our Savior with the next right step— obedience brings clarity. We say “I love You” to the Lord when we follow Christ’s commands. Love obeys God.

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John14:23).

Worship, Prayer, Community, Evangelism and Study

Worship and prayer is our expression of gratitude and honor to the Lord and our dependence on His Spirit. Regular kneeling before God keeps us in good standing with Him. Community is accountability to Christians and evangelism is compassion for non-Christians. We are not ashamed of the gospel, because grace has covered our shame. We love the Lord with our mind when we stay teachable. Study to apply the knowledge, understanding and wisdom of God.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

Love God

Intimacy with Almighty God is a growing and loving relationship. We are loved by Him, so we can love others and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey His commands. Our perfect heavenly Father takes our imperfect intentions and molds them into His will. Like a healthy marriage our love for Jesus grows deeper and stronger through life’s good times and hard times. We love Him when we don’t feel lovable and His sweet presence makes us feel loved. Most of all, because of our love for the Lord—we seek to do His will. Our love—loves what God loves.

 “Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

Love People

Loving people is an outflow of the love for our Heavenly Father. We are able to love because He first loved us. Though it may be easier to love the Lord than people, our love of people is a reflection of our love for God. Thus, when a child is ungrateful—we still love them by showing them gratitude. When a co-worker is disrespectful—we still love them by giving them respect. Every day is an opportunity to love those we encounter with the generous grace of God. Love the discouraged with encouragement, the proud with humility.Love learns to love like Jesus!

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Make Disciples

The reason we disciple others is because we are extremely grateful to God and to those who disciple us, and we want to obey Christ’s last instructions before He went to heaven. Disciple-making is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are His vessels for discipleship. The best disciplers are faithful disciples themselves. Disciples develop disciples. Keep it simple. Pray for two or three hungry hearted believers who want to grow in their faith. Meet regularly for prayer, Bible study and accountability. Disciples are made as we invest our life in faithful Jesus followers.

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Prayer: Heavenly Father grow me into a faithful disciple, so I can help grow disciples of Jesus.

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~


Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 27

In His Letter to the Philippians (continued)

Triumph In Paul's Own Spiritual History

Paul then comes in himself, and gives us in this letter quite a bit of autobiography. He tells us something of his own  history before his conversion, as to who he was and what he was, and where he was, and what he had. Of course, it was nothing to be compared with what his Lord had and had let go. But Paul himself, as Saul of Tarsus, had a great deal by birth, by inheritance, by upbringing, by education, by status, prestige and so on. He had quite a lot. He tells us about it here. All that men would boast of - he had it. And then he met Jesus Christ, or Jesus Christ met him; and the whole thing, he said - all that he had and possessed - became in his hands, like ashes, like refuse! "I do count them but refuse."

Many people have this false idea about the gospel, that, if you embrace the gospel, if you become a Christian, if you are converted, or however you like to put it, you are going to have to lose or give up everything, you have to give up this and that. If you become a Christian, it will be just one long story of giving up, giving up, giving up, until sooner or later you are skinned of everything. Listen! Here is a man who had far more than you or I ever had. We cannot stand in the same street with this man in his natural life, in all that he was and all that he had, and all the prospects that were before him as a young man. There is very little doubt that, if Paul had not become a Christian, his name would have gone down in history among some other very famous names of his time.But he says - not in these words, but in many more words than these: 'When I met the Lord Jesus, that whole thing became to me like refuse.' Give it up? Who will find any sacrifice in giving up a candle when they have found the sun? Sacrifice in that? Oh, no! 'In comparison with Christ, I just count it the veriest refuse.'

What a victory! What a triumph! You see, this giving up - well, put it like that, if you life - but Paul is very happy about it. That is the point. It is Paul's joy, the joy of a tremendous victory in himself.

Triumph In Paul's Ministry

But further, here it is the story of the great victory in his ministry, in his work. We recall the story of how he went to Philippi. He had set out to go into Asia, to preach the gospel there, and was on his way, when, in that mysterious providence of God which only explains itself afterward and never before , he was forbidden, checked, prevented, stopped. The day closed with a closed way, a halted journey. He was in perplexity as to the meaning of this; he did not understand it. Waiting on God during that night, he had a vision. He saw a man of Macedonia - Philippi is in Macedonia - saying: "Come over into Macedonia, and help us" (Acts 16:9). And Paul said, "We sought to go forth ... concluding that God had called us for to preach the gospel unto them." So, turning away from Asia, he turned towards Europe, and came to Philippi.

Sometimes disappointment and upsetting of plans can be the very ground of a great victory.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 28)

The Battle Between Faith and Worry (and other devotionals)

The Battle Between Faith and Worry

BIBLE MEDITATION:

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:

Do you ever worry? Don’t look around and point your finger at someone else. Do you ever worry—even the least little bit? And yet the Bible so clearly tells us not to worry about anything but to pray about everything.

There are really only two classes of things for which we ought not to worry: those things we cannot do anything about and the things we can do something about. The best thing you can say about worry is that it is useless. The worst thing you can say about it is that it dishonors God.

ACTION POINT:

Worry is the opposite of faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.”

~Adrian Rogers~

_________________________________


"Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29 :18).

Waiting upon God is necessary in order to see Him, to have a vision of Him. The time element in vision is essential. Our hearts are like a sensitive photographer's plate; and in order to have God revealed there, we must sit at His feet a long time. The troubled surface of a lake will not reflect an object.

Our lives must be quiet and restful if we would see God. There is power in the sight of some things to affect one's life. A quiet sunset will bring peace to a troubled heart. Thus the vision of God always transforms human life.

Jacob saw God at Jabbok's ford, and became Israel. The vision of God transformed Gideon from a coward into a valiant soldier. The vision of Christ changed Thomas from a doubting follower into a loyal, devout disciple.

But men have had visions of God since Bible times. William Carey saw God, and left his shoemaker's bench and went to India. David Livingstone saw God, and left all to follow Him through the jungles of dark Africa. Scores and hundreds have had visions of God, and are today in the uttermost parts of the earth working for the speedy evangelization of the heathen.
--Dr. Pardington

There is hardly ever a complete silence in the soul. God is whispering to us well-nigh incessantly. Whenever the sounds of the world die out in the soul, or sink low, then we hear the whisperings of God. He is always whispering to us, only we do not hear, because of the noise, hurry, and distraction which life causes as it rushes on.
--F. W. Faber

"Speak, Lord, in the stillness,
While I wait on Thee;
Hushed my heart to listen
In expectancy.
"Speak, O blessed Master,
In this quiet hour;
Let me see Thy face, Lord,
Feel Thy touch of power.
"For the words Thou speakest,
'They are life,' indeed;
Living bread from Heaven,
Now my spirit feed!
"Speak, Thy servant heareth!
Be not silent, Lord;
Waits my soul upon Thee
For the quickening word!"

~L. B. Cowman~

__________________________


Mark 9:19
Bring him unto me.
Despairingly the poor disappointed father turned away from the disciples to their Master. His son was in the worst possible condition, and all means had failed, but the miserable child was soon delivered from the evil one when the parent in faith obeyed the Lord Jesus' word, "Bring him unto me." Children are a precious gift from God, but much anxiety comes with them. They may be a great joy or a great bitterness to their parents; they may be filled with the Spirit of God, or possessed with the spirit of evil. In all cases, the Word of God gives us one receipt for the curing of all their ills, "Bring him unto me." O for more agonizing prayer on their behalf while they are yet babes! Sin is there, let our prayers begin to attack it. Our cries for our offspring should precede those cries which betoken their actual advent into a world of sin. In the days of their youth we shall see sad tokens of that dumb and deaf spirit which will neither pray aright, nor hear the voice of God in the soul, but Jesus still commands, "Bring them unto me." When they are grown up they may wallow in sin and foam with enmity against God; then when our hearts are breaking we should remember the great Physician's words, "Bring them unto me." Never must we cease to pray until they cease to breathe. No case is hopeless while Jesus lives. The Lord sometimes suffers His people to be driven into a corner that they may experimentally know how necessary He is to them. Ungodly children, when they show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of their hearts, drive us to flee to the strong for strength, and this is a great blessing to us. Whatever our morning's need may be, let it like a strong current bear us to the ocean of divine love. Jesus can soon remove our sorrow, He delights to comfort us. Let us hasten to Him while He waits to meet us.

~Charles Spurgeon~

_________________________

Today's reading: 1 Kings 1:28-53

David is a true leader through and through. Although he is physically struggling in his old age, he remains sharp and on top of his game intellectually. So when the situation with Adonijah is brought to his attention, David's leadership skills shine. Not only does David respond immediately, but he also responds with a plan that's impressive and completely thwarts Adonijah's attempt to take over as king.
After my initial read, I went back through this passage again noting David's thinking, words and actions as a leader. When I finished, I had about six things written down. My top two were: David was a man of his word, and that he confidently rose to the occasion.

So what did you see and learn about being a good leader from David's example in 1 Kings 1:28-53? What stood out to you the most about David's leadership in this difficult situation? 

~Tami~

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 26

In His Letter to the Philippians (continued)

The Letter of the Joy of Triumph

But as we read it, we find that it resolves itself into this. It is, perhaps more than any other letter in the New Testament, the letter of the joy of triumph. Joy runs right through this letter. The Apostle is full of joy to overflowing. He seems to be hardly able to contain himself. In the last chapter we were speaking of his superlatives in relation to the great calling of the Church in the gospel. Here the Apostle is finding it difficult to express himself as to his joy. I leave you to look at it. Look just at the first words, his introduction, and see. But it runs right through to the end. It has been called the letter of Paul's joy in Christ, but it is the joy of triumph, and triumph in a threefold direction. The triumph of Christ; triumph in Paul; and triumph in the Christians at Philippi. That really sums up the whole letter: the threefold triumph with its joy and exultant outflowing.

The Triumph of Christ

First of all, triumph in Christ and of Christ. It is in this letter that Paul gives us that matchless unveiling of he great cycle of redemption - the sublime course taken by the Lord Jesus in His redemptive work. We see Him, firstly, in the place of equality with God: equal with God, and all that that means - all that it means for God to be God. How great that is! - how full, how high, how majestic, how glorious! Paul here says that Jesus was there equal with God. And then, 'counting it not something to be held on to, to be grasped at, this equality with God, He emptied Himself. He emptied Himself of all that, let it go, laid it aside, gave it up. Just  think of what He was going to have in exchange. These are thoughts almost impossible of grasping: God, in all His infinite fullness of and eternal fullness, allowing men of His own creation, even the meanest of them, to spit on Him, to mock and jeer at Him. He laid it aside; He emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a man, was found in fashion as a man; and not only that, but still lower in this cycle - the form of a bond-slave, a bond-slave man. A bond-slave is one who has no personal rights; he has no franchise, he has no title. He is not allowed to choose for himself, to go his own way, and much more. Paul says here that Jesus took the form of a bond-slave.

And then he goes on to say that "He  humbled Himself, became obedient unto death"; and not a glorious death at that, not a death about which people speak in terms of praise and admiration. "Yes", says the Apostle, 'death on a Cross' - the most shameful, ignominious death, with all that that meant. You see, the Jewish world, the religious world, of that day, had it written in their Book that he that hangs upon a tree is cursed of God. Jesus was obedient to the point of being found in the place of one who is cursed of God. That is how they looked upon Him - as cursed of God. And as for the rest of the world, the Gentile world, their whole conception of that which should be worshiped was one who could never be defeated, one who could never be found in a situation which should cause him shame, one who could stand before the world as a success - that was their idea of a god. But here is this Man on the Cross. Is He a success? That is no sign of success. That is no indication of human strength. That is weakness. There is nothing honorable about that - it is disgraceful. That is humanity at its lowest.

And then the cycle is reversed, and the Apostle breaks in here, and says: "Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow" - sooner or later; either gladly to acknowledge Him Lord, or forcedly to do so; sooner or later, in the determinate counsels of Almighty God, it shall be; "and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father". What a cycle! What a circle! What a triumph! You cannot find triumph fuller or greater than that: and Paul calls that the gospel. It is the good news of Christ's tremendous triumph. He has triumphed in that circle, and all that is included in the triumph is the gospel. We cannot stay to dwell upon it, as to why He did it, or what He effected by it, what He has secured in it. All that is the gospel. But the fact is that in that Christ has accomplished a tremendous victory. In the whole circle of Heaven and earth, from the highest height to the lowest depth, He has triumphed. Paul finds unspeakable joy in contemplating that. That is what he calls the good tidings, the gospel - triumph in Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 27 - (Triumph In Paul's Own Spiritual History)

There Was No Day Like That After It

There was no day like that after it - Joshua 10:14

The sun seemed to stay its course in mid-heaven, and hasted not to go down; but there has been no day like that, and there will be none. You may bid the westering sun of another's life stay its downward track toward the western sea, but in vain. It may be some revered minister, some sainted parent, some life dearer to you than your own; but it obeys not your bidding. Surely and inevitably the little daughter of Jairus fades like a flower plucked from its stalk; and Lazarus sinks into his death-sleep, despite the eager message of the sisters to the Life-giver.

So with the sun of your own life. Slowly and steadily it descends. Work while it is called today; for the night cometh, in which no man can work. Finish the work that your Father has given you to do; there is only just time enough for it to be clone within the span of your days. Our one anxiety should be that nothing divert us from His path, or intercept the communication of His grace.

But there is one Sun that goes not down. "Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw herself; for the Lord shall be to thee an everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." Ah, precious Sun of Righteousness, when once Thou hast risen upon the soul, Thou shalt know no setting, ever higher and higher shalt Thou rise until the perfect day; no twilight or night can come where Thou art; no darkness draw its vail across the sky! Neither life nor death, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which has broken upon our hearts, through the wall of cloud.

~F. B. Meyer~

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 25

In His Letter to the Philippians

Continuing our inquiry into what the Apostle meant by his words "the gospel which I preach", we take in our hands the little letter written by Paul to the Philippians. Although this was one of the last writings of the Apostle - it was written from his imprisonment in Rome shortly before his execution, at the end of a long, full life of ministry and work -  we find that he is still speaking of everything as "the gospel". He has not grown out of the gospel, he has not go beyond the gospel. Indeed, at the end he is more than ever aware of the riches of the gospel which are far beyond him.

Here are the references that he makes in this letter to the gospel:

"I thank my God ... for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel ..." (1:3, 5).

"...It is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace" (1:7).

" ... the one [preach Christ] of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel: but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. What then? only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" (1:16 -18).

"But I know the proof of him that, as a child serveth a father, so he served me in furtherance of the gospel" (2:22).

"Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel ..." (4:3).

"I can do all things in Him that strengthened me. Howbeit ye did well, that ye had fellowship with me in my affliction. And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving, but ye only ..." (4:13-15)

You see there is a good deal about the gospel in this little letter. I say "little" letter. This letter is like a beautiful jewel in the crown of Jesus Christ, or like a beautiful pearl whose colors are the result of exquisite pain and suffering. It is something very costly and very precious. So far as actual chapters and verses are concerned, it is small. It is one of the smallest of Paul's letters, but in its intrinsic values and worth it is immense; and as a real setting forth of what the gospel is, there are few, if any, thins in the New Testament to be compared with it. What we really come to in this letter is not only a setting forth of what the gospel is in truth, but an example of what the gospel is in effect. Look at it again, dwell upon it with openness of heart, and I think you verdict will be - it surely should be - 'Well, if that is the gospel, give me the gospel! If that is the gospel, it is something worth having!' That surely is the effect of reading this little letter. It is a wonderful example of the gospel in expression.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 26 - (The Letter of the Joy of Triumph)

For You, A Vile Sinner, A Rebel Worm!


For you, a vile sinner, a rebel worm!

(David Harsha, "Christ Crucified!")


"He loved me, and gave Himself up for me!" Galatians 2
:20
Ponder the amazing love exhibited in the death of Christ. Would you see the highest manifestation of eternal love? Then contemplate Christ crucified! Here is the grand exhibition of infinite love.

In the crucifixion of the glorious Redeemer, the brightest love that ever shone on earth is displayed.

What boundless love is seen here--the infinite love of Christ, shining in all its glory!

What but infinite love brought Him . . .
  from the height of glory and bliss--to the depths of sufferings;
  from the throne of Heaven--to the cross of Calvary!

What but infinite love made Him a suffering man, and a dying Savior!

What but infinite love made Him hasten to Jerusalem, to suffer for rebellious sinners!

What but infinite love led Him to Gethsemane, to endure those agonies for sinners, where His blessed form was covered with bloody sweat!

What but infinite love nailed Him to the cross, there to bleed and die for sinners!

"Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." But oh! the greatest wonder in the universe is, that "When we were God's ENEMIES, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son!"

Think of this, wonder at it, be amazed at it!

Christ, the glorious Son of God--dying for you, a vile sinner, a rebel worm!

O admire that love which pitied you in your lost condition, visited your world, and raised you from the depths of sin and suffering--to become an heir of eternal bliss and glory!

How vast is this love! The all surpassing love of a dying Savior!
Your breadths and lengths have never been compassed by a human thought;
your depths never fathomed by a created intelligence;
your heights never scanned by a seraph's gaze!

Stupendous love!

What a theme--the dying love of the crucified Son of God!

Well may angels desire to dwell on this mystery!

Well may saints be enraptured with this profound subject!

What heart is so obdurate as not to be melted by its touching exhibition--or so benighted as not to be dazzled by its glory!

How wonderful! That He who kindled up the stars of Heaven--should take upon Him our nature, and die in our room and stead!

Amazing love!

This is the wonder of wonders--the unsearchable riches of Christ!

Truly, the love of Christ surpasses knowledge!

Those, and those alone, who have stood by the cross and viewed Immanuel in agonies and death, bleeding and dying for their sins; and have felt that healing balm applied to their diseased souls; and have seen all their sins washed away with the blood of God, their ransom paid, and their pardon sealed--will realize the following very appropriate and beautiful lines:
"In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new Object struck my sight,
And stopped my wild career!

I saw One hanging on a tree,
In agony and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me,
As near His cross I stood.

Surely, never to my dying breath,
Can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke.

My conscience felt and owned the guilt,
And plunged me in despair,
I saw my sins, His blood had spilt,
And helped to nail Him there!

Alas! I knew not what I did,
But now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid
For I, the Lord have slain!

A second look He gave, which said,
'I freely all forgive;
This blood is for your ransom paid;
I die, that you may live!'

Thus while His death, my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too!

With pleasing grief and mournful joy,
My spirit now is filled;
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I killed!"
  (John Newton)

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 24

In His Letter to the Ephesians (continued)

Superlative Resources

Now, mark you, this is what Paul calls the gospel -  all this is the gospel! Did you ever get an idea of the gospel like that? Did you ever think of the gospel in such terms? Yes, it is still the gospel, the same gospel; not another, the same. Now, because all this is true as to the gospel, surely the demands are very great. The reaction of so many, when you say things like this, is: "Oh, I cannot rise to that - that is altogether beyond me, that is too much for me, that is overpowering, that is overwhelming! Give me a simple gospel!" But I wonder if we realize what we involve ourselves in when we talk like that. For it is just there that the true nature of the gospel comes in, in this whole letter. Yes, the calling is great, is immense; conduct must be on a high level; the conflict is fierce and bitter. And that makes tremendous demands. If that is the gospel, then how shall we stand up to it, how shall we face it, how shall we rise to it, how shall we get through?

Well, come back to the phrase to which I am gathering the whole of this letter. It is here: "to good-news the unsearchable riches of Christ." It is translated "preach" in our Bibles, but it is the same word, as you know, in the verb form. "To good-news the unsearchable riches of Christ". The good news is that the riches are unsearchable! Oh, this is something for us in which to rejoice, being hard pressed, hard put to it; feeling we shall never rise to it, never go through with it. The superlative riches are for a superlative vocation and for a superlative conflict and for superlative conduct.

"Unsearchable riches". Now that is a characteristic word that you find scattered through this letter. Riches! Riches! In chapter one,verse seven it is "the riches of His grace". That phrase is enlarged in two, verse seven, - "the exceeding riches of His grace". And then in one, verse eighteen, it is the inheritance - "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints". That just means that the saints are the inheritance of Jesus Christ, and in them, in His Church, He has a tremendous wealth. Now, if He is going to have wealth in this Church, it is He Who must supply the wealth, and it is "according to the riches of His grace" that He will find "the riches of His inheritance" in the Church. There is much more said about that. In three, verse sixteen, the word is used again - "the riches of His glory". Riches! Riches! Very well: if the demands are great, there is a great supply. If the need is superlative, the resources are superlative. All this sets forth and indicates the basis and the resources of the Church for its calling, for its conduct, and for its conflict.

So what is the gospel according to Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians? It is the gospel of the "unsearchable riches" for superlative demands, and when you have said that, you are left swimming in a mighty ocean. Go to the letter again, read it carefully through, note it. Yes, there is a high standard here, there are big demands here, tremendous things in view here; but there are also the riches of His grace, the unsearchable riches of His grace for it all. There are the riches of His glory: it is put like this - "according to the riches of His glory". Now, if you can explore, fathom, exhaust, God's riches in glory, then you put a certain limit upon possibilities and potentialities. But if, after you have said all that you have tried to say in human language, as the Apostle did here, you find that you have not got enough superlatives at your command when you are talking about the resources that are in God by Christ Jesus, then everything is possible - according to the riches of His grace and of His glory.

That is a gospel, is it not? Surely that is good tidings, that is good news! And, dear friends, we shall get through - and we ought not just to scrape through. If it is like that, we ought to get through superlatively. The Lord bring us into the good of the superlatives of the gospel, of the good news. Amen

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 25 - (In His Letter to the Philippians)

The Riches of God's Grace (and other devotionals)

The Riches of God's Grace

Do you think of yourself as rich? No matter how much money you have, if you're a believer in Jesus, you're extremely wealthy because God has lavished the riches of His grace upon you. At the moment of salvation, He deposited into your account "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (v. 3). Why, then, do so many believers live in spiritual poverty?

1. Ignorance. Some Christians don't know about this unlimited spiritual "bank account," and, therefore, they never draw upon it.

2. Confusion. Too many believers just don't know how to access the treasures of God's grace. As a result, they worry and complain about their needs and problems or in desperation come to the Lord begging and pleading for help, never realizing His abundant supply has already been deposited into their account.

3. Competing Interests. Distraction by things of this world may be the most common reason. Christians in this category focus on possessions, pressing responsibilities, and advancement but lack interest in God's spiritual blessings.
The riches of God's grace supersede any earthly wealth. They give the peace and contentment that money can never buy, and their benefits reach all the way into eternity.

The only way to access God's spiritual riches is by faith. We don't have to beg or persuade the Lord to give what He has already made available to us. Instead, we simply choose to believe that we are who He says we are and can do what He has called us to accomplish.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

_________________________


Psalm 112:7
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.
Christian, you ought not to dread the arrival of evil tidings; because if you are distressed by them, what do you more than other men? Other men have not your God to fly to; they have never proved His faithfulness as you have done, and it is no wonder if they are bowed down with alarm and cowed with fear: but you profess to be of another spirit; you have been begotten again unto a lively hope, and your heart lives in heaven and not on earthly things; now, if you are seen to be distracted as other men, what is the value of that grace which you profess to have received? Where is the dignity of that new nature which you claim to possess? Again, if you should be filled with alarm, as others are, you would, doubtless, be led into the sins so common to others under trying circumstances. The ungodly, when they are overtaken by evil tidings, rebel against God; they murmur, and think that God deals hardly with them. Will you fall into that same sin? Will you provoke the Lord as they do? Moreover, unconverted men often run to wrong means in order to escape from difficulties, and you will be sure to do the same if your mind yields to the present pressure. Trust in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Your wisest course is to do as Moses did at the Red Sea, "Stand still and see the salvation of God." For if you give way to fear when you hear of evil tidings, you will be unable to meet the trouble with that calm composure which nerves for duty, and sustains under adversity. How can you glorify God if you play the coward? Saints have often sung God's high praises in the fires, but will your doubting and desponding, as if you had none to help you, magnify the Most High? Then take courage, and relying in sure confidence upon the faithfulness of your covenant God, "let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

~Charles Spurgeon~

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Flawless Words

Flawless Words 
And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. Psalm 12:6

The words of the Lord are flawless. There is no dross in Christ’s conversation. Men may lie, but He is the truth. Men may deceive, but Jesus enlightens. Men may flatter, but the Lord edifies. Men may boast, but Jesus gives the glory to God. Words can be wonderful or terrible depending on their source. The words of the Lord are rooted in righteousness. You can trust what God says. He is appropriate and applicable. It is the words of heaven that make earth better. Indeed the words of the Lord have stood the test of time. They have been tried by fire and have come forth faithful.

The Holy Scriptures have not been without criticism and consternation. Some “scholars” have stripped them of miracles even though Jesus warned there are severe consequences for adding to His word (Revelation 22:18). Furthermore, God’s Word does not need help. His words have survived the ravishing of faithless liberalism and loveless legalism. The Bible has been burned, belittled and ignored. Nonetheless: the Holy Scriptures are translated into more languages today than ever in the history of mankind. It has stood the test of time.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my [Christ’s] words will never pass away” (Luke 21:33).

So take the Lord’s flawless words by faith. Read them daily and apply them moment by moment. Study them and struggle with them. Seek to understand the context of the Bible and why God chose to speak specific infallible words through fallible followers. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Holy Scriptures (2 Peter 1:21). The pen of men moved under the instruction of divine inspiration. We have a stewardship of truth. Scripture is our handbook for holiness and happiness.

We honor and value His words when we take them to heart. We listen for instructions in our obedience. We listen for encouragement. We listen for rebuke. We listen to the Lord’s flawless words because we know we are loved by Him. We have infinite access to wisdom. Like a precious jewel the clarity, cut, color and carat of Christ’s word is flawless and invaluable. They are matchless compared to man’s meager trinkets. By God’s grace we apply His flawless words to our flawed lives.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, by faith I look to Your perfect Word to instruct my imperfect life.

~Wisdom Hunters Devotional~




Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 23

In His Letter to the Ephesians (continued)

A Superlative Vessel and A Superlative Calling

Now this superlative vessel or instrument or people has a superlative or transcendent calling. The Jews had an earthly calling to serve an earthly purpose, a vocation of time on this earth. Many believe very strongly that they are yet to serve such a purpose. There are others, and among them outstanding Bible teachers, who believe that the day of the Jew is finished as in the economy of God, and that everything has been transferred to the Church now because of the Jew's failures. I am not going to argue that; that does not come into our consideration at all. The fact remains that the Jews were raised up to serve an earthly and temporal purpose in the economy of God. But this Church, eternally saved - eternally chosen, as the Apostle says, in Christ Jesus before the world as - this has a superlative calling to serve the purpose of God in Heaven. It is something timeless, superlative in calling, in vocation. It is a tremendous thing that is here.

We have often put it in this way, and indeed it is what the Letter to the Ephesians teaches - we have to touch on this in another way presently - that this world, as to its conduct, is influences by a whole spiritual hierarchy. Even men who have not a great deal of spiritual discernment, men whom we would hardly think of as Christian men, in the essential sense of being born-again children of God, have recognized this and admit it: that behind the believer of this world there is some sinister force, some evil power, some wicked intelligence. They may hesitate to name it, to call it satan, the devil, and so on, but the Bible just calls it that. Behind the course of this world's history, as we know it - behind the wars, the rivalries, the hatred, the bitterness, the cruelty, all the clash and clamor of interests, and everything else - there is an evil intelligence, a power at work, a whole system that is seeking to ruin the glory of God in His creation. And that whole system is here said to be in what is called "the heavenlies", that is, something above the earth; in the very air, if you like, in the very atmosphere. Sometimes you can sense it: sometimes you can almost "cut the atmosphere with a knife", as we say;  sometimes you know there is something in the very air that is wicked, evil. You cannot just put it down to people; there is something behind the people, something about. it is very real - sometimes it seems almost tangible, you can almost smell it - something evil and wicked. It is that which is governing this world system and order.

Now what is here in this letter is this, that this Church, eternally conceived, foreknown, chosen, and brought into existence in its beginning on the day of Pentecost, and growing spiritually through the centuries since - this Church is to take the place of that evil government above the earth. It is to depose it and cast it out of its domain, and ITSELF take that place to be the influence that governs this world in the ages to come. That is the teaching here: a superlative calling, a superlative vocation, because of a superlative people in their very nature. There is something different about them from other people. That is the secret of the true Christian life - of the true ones in Christ: there is something about them that is different. To this world, Christians are a problem and a conundrum. You cannot put them into any earthly class. You cannot just pigeon-hole a Christian. Somehow or other, they elude you all the time. You cannot make them out.

Now, in this letter Paul speaks first of all of that superlative calling, and then he says that, because of the greatness of that calling, this Church must behave itself accordingly. "I ... beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called" (Ephesians 4:1). Conduct has to be adjusted to calling. Oh, that Christian people behaved correspondingly to their calling - to their great, eternal, heavenly vocation! But because of this calling, this destiny, this vocation, this position, that mighty evil hierarchy is set to its last ounce to destroy this vessel called the Church, and therefore there is an immense and terrible conflict going on in the air over this whole thing, and Christians meet it. The more you seek to live according to your calling, the more you realize how difficult it is, and what there is set against you. It is fierce and bitter spiritual conflict.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 24 - (Superlative Resources)

Why Go To Hell?

Why Go to Hell?

Archibald G. Brown



"Why will you die?" Ezekiel 33:11

Doubtless those of you who were with us last Sunday evening have not yet forgotten the subject of discourse. It was a solemn time to us all. God was in our midst, and we felt that we had received a warning from Him to prepare for death. "This year you shall die!" sounded in our ears, and not knowing who the one would be, many of us took the message as if specially addressed to ourselves. Looking death in the face, and contemplating the tremendous results depending on it — we realized something of the experience of one of old when he exclaimed "How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God."
Many of you will also remember that I said while preaching, that it was deeply laid upon my heart that some of my hearers would be in eternity before the year was out. This statement proved to be only too true. Oh, how much greater would have been the solemnity of the service, if you all had but known what I learned only three minutes after the sermon was concluded. While I was preaching, there was one lying a corpse, who was in this Tabernacle on the previous Sabbath evening. He heard with many of you that sermon on the text, "Come here, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife!" and alas on the following Tuesday, he was cut down with little warning. I know he was impressed — but whether more than that, I cannot say. What a voice this has to us! It says to me,"Preach as a dying man to dying men; waste no time over mere prettinesses of speech — but plead with men as for eternity."

"O God, save me from trifling with immortal spirits, and speaking as if I only half believe the warnings that I utter, or the gospel that I proclaim!"
But my hearers, it speaks to you. Before this year has gone, few though its remaining days are, some of you may be swept away as with a flood! Time with you may be over — and eternity commenced!
Is it so? How then should you listen — with what breathless interest should you attend when we tell you of the only way whereby you may be saved. Will you sit listless and careless as if the subject did not concern you, when we plead with you about matters which will decide your eternal well-being — or eternal woe? Awake! awake!! you drowsy ones, for what I have to tell you this night will be remembered by you either in Heaven — or in Hell.
My subject is a more stupendous one than last Sunday night's. Then I spoke only of the death of the body — but now I am going to speak about the death of the soul.
Listen to me, you shall. God has brought you this evening under the sound of the word, and there is something within me that tells me that God will this night give me a message to some of you. I do not doubt some will be offended, for I will speak some plain truths in rather rough language; I do not care not if some are offended — for I must have souls at any price. An overwhelming desire is within me to clear myself of the blood of all, and if I have never warned or pleaded with you before, I will now, God helping me.
This year has almost gone; but one Sunday now remains, and that, being Christmas day, many of you will not be here. To numbers of you, then, this is the last sermon I will preach this year — to some perhaps, it is the last forever. I am going to ask you a startling question tonight, one very different from my usual kind. Hundreds of times I have asked you, "Why will you not be saved?'' But now I ask you, "Why will you be damned?" It is not this evening, "Why will you not go to Heaven?" but "Why will you go to Hell?"

I want a reason for your madness. I want a cause for your preference for perdition. But wait, I am in error; it is not I — but God, who asks the question. It is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who says, "Say to them: As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live! Turn, turn from your evil ways, for why will you die?"
Looking now to the Lord for power and earnestness, I will try and dwell upon three things in the text:
First, you have in it a horrible resolution implied — to die.
Secondly, a plaintive question asked — why?
Thirdly, a glorious truth taught — God does not desire your ruin.
 

I. First then, We have a Horrible Resolution. It is a resolution to die — a determination to be eternally damned!
"Wait, sir," says one, "that is far too strong an assertion; whoever heard anyone say that he intended to go to Hell?" I never said anyone had been heard to say so; all I say is, they determine to to go to Hell. There are two ways of pleading: one by the lip — and the other by the actions. And I am inclined to think the latter way is often the most truthful; at all events, the old saying declares that "actions speak louder than words." I have never heard a sinner say he had made up his mind to be eternally damned — but I have often seen him say it, and seeing is believing. There are several ways of expressing a resolution to be damned, without uttering a word. I will mention three of them, and leave it with you to determine whether I am justified or not in saying that sinners are determined to go to Hell.

A man may be said to have resolved to die, when he uses the means of death. After knowing that a certain course of action will be sure to end in death — then if he still persists in it, it is a mere quibble to say that he never intended to die, because he never told anybody so with his lip. He did tell them so in the most emphatic manner he could.
As I want to bring the solemnity of the subject home to every heart, I will employ some illustrations perhaps more forcible than elegant. Elegant did I say!Elegancies are out of place when immortal souls are in the balance.

Come then and let me show you a picture. Do you see that man in yonder room? He carefully locks and double locks the door — he casts his eye around to make sure no one is concealed — with determined step he advances to the cupboard, and mounting a chair, he takes from the top shelf a small bottle. He puts it to his lips and drinks a few drops.
What is it? Why look! Don't you see that red label on it, with the words "Poison!" That is what it is! He drinks again — a cold chill seems to grip his heart, and from head to foot he shudders. Again he puts the deadly mixture to his lips, and now, while his heart feels like ice, his brain begins to burn. It feels to him as if the fiery chariot of Elijah was coursing through his veins. He drinks again. His hands become palsied — his throat parched — all swims around him, and . . . But we will follow the wretched suicide no further, nor attempt to describe the last few moments of his poisoned life.
What I want you to answer is this, "Did that man's actions not declare without a word on his part, that he meant to die?" Of course they did, the mixture was labeled poison; he read it so, knew it was so — and yet he took it. Do you say "he was mad"? Granted, perhaps he was; but that does not alter the argument — in his madness, he resolved to die.
Let me now present to you the horrible reality of which this is but an illustration. There is a black mixture, sweet to the natural taste of man — but labeled by God "Poison!" called sin. The result of taking it is declared, in language that cannot be mistaken, to be certain death.
"The soul that sins, shall surely die." Ezekiel 18.20
"The wages of sin is death." Romans 6.23
"Sin when it is finished brings forth death." James 1.15
These are a few of the red labels of caution that God has put upon sin. Now if the sinner, in spite of all warning, not only refuses the antidote for the poison he has already imbibed — but loves the death-dealing draught, and revels in his secret drams — then what conclusion can we come to than that he is determined to go to Hell?
O, young man, I would that I could speak a word tonight to arrest you in your miserable madness. Your secret sins, like stolen waters, you now find to be sweet. An impulse well-near irresistible draws you again and again to the fatal drink. For Heaven and Hell's sake, stop! It is poison that you are drinking! But alas! you, with sinners of all kinds present, know it. Sin has been marked as "poison" a thousand times before your eyes — and yet you roll it like a sweet morsel under your tongue! Surely you must have determined to be damned! It has sent the deadly chill to your heart; its poison is working in your mind and memory tonight — and yet you grasp the damnable cup, and with Hell-inspired resolution, you murmur, "I will have more!" You are a suicide, man, and of the worst kind, for you are killing your eternal soul! God's verdict over you, when the poison has done its work, will be "You have destroyed yourself!"
But again, the man may be said to have determined to die, who spurns all that could save him from death. On this point I think I will be able to touch some of your hearts, who have warded off the former blow. You say, "Ah, that slow poison illustration does not affect me much. I am no open sinner who revels in his sin; I am not rushing to eternity without a thought; I am most particular about my morality, and I pay great respect to religious affairs."
Stop a minute, friend! Not quite so fast, please. You are just as determined upon soul-suicide as the poor madman we have described. Remember, it is possible to ensure death by simply refusing to accept anything that could rescue you from it. Granted, for the sake of argument, that you are not one who delights in open sin and drinks down its poison with delight — yet you have sinned.
The poison is in your blood, working death — and in rejecting Christ you have given as solemn a proof of determination to go to Hell as you could ever have given by the vilest of lives.
Let me hold a mirror before you, so that you may see yourself. On that bedstead there lies a man dying to all appearance as fast as possible. The death dew stands upon his brow, and for every breath he has a struggle. The poison has well-near done its work. But lo! a physician rushes in. He has heard of the case, and come with overwhelming earnestness to tell the man he has an antidote that can save him completely. He assures him he was poisoned himself by the same thing, tried the antidote, and was saved by it. He offers it — presses it upon the man. Taking the medicine in his hand, and without saying a solitary word, the dying wretch summons all the strength he has, and hurls it through the window! What does that action say? Why, "I am determined to go to Hell." Ah! moralist, remember that with all your morality, you are rejecting Christ, the heavenly antidote; and that says, without your uttering a word, "I mean to be damned forever!"
Lastly on this point — a man may be said to have determined to die, who surmounts all obstacles placed in his way in order to prevent him from dying.
I see a man making his way with dreadful haste to the canal. I know he means death. I rush in front of him and hold out my arms across the path. With an curse, he dodges under them and pursues his headlong race. I call to another man to stop him — but with a blow the maniac fells him. There is one last chance. Across the footpath along which he runs there is an open gate. I call to one at hand, and he swings it close. "Thank God," I exclaim, "he is saved now." Not so; with one leap he clears it, and nothing now remains to thwart his purpose. What purpose? Why death, of course. Has he not fought his way to it?
Lost sinner, I mean you. God only knows how many obstacles you have overcome in your race to eternal ruin. In early days a mother stopped your path — but you soon evaded her, and broke her heart. You can now jest about the foolish fears of the "old woman," as you term her. A Sunday school teacher did his best to arrest you — but he proved no great obstacle; you soon left his class when you found he was satisfied with nothing less than the salvation of your soul. Hundreds of sermons have been flung across your path — but you have somehow gotten over them all. I am trying to shut a gate before you this evening — but I have little doubt you will soon surmount it and laugh around your supper table tonight, at the folly of the preacher who tried to stop you!
Well, I can only mourn if it is so, and tell my Lord, "Lord, I did my best to be the means of saving him — but it was of no avail; he has made up his mind to be damned." We must now get to our second point.
 

II. The Text asks a Plaintive Question. Why will you die? Why this determination to be ruined forever? Surely, friend, you must have some weighty reason for a resolution so fraught with eternal importance. What can it possibly be? I fear it must be one founded on a delusion — so I will ask you two or three questions which I pray God may be the means of shaking you out of your madness.

Is Hell so pleasant a place that you want to enter there? Is there anything in the descriptions given of it in scripture that can possibly become father to the desire of going there? Unless I am under one of the strangest delusions, I think I have read of things such as . . .
fire that is never quenched,
worm that never dies,
smoke of torment that ever ascends,
outer darkness, and 
weeping 
and wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Unless my Bible is a different one to yours, I think I have read that Christ said — and surely He ought to know — that it would be better for a man never to have been born, than to ever enter Hell. Was it not the psalmist who said that horror seized him at the thought of the sinner's doom? The Hell described in my Bible is a very awful one, and I think you will find the same in yours.

O sinner, to be damned is no trifle! The Hell of scripture makes your resolution the resolution of a maniac.
"Why will you die?" But if it is not that Hell is desirable — is it because Heaven has no charms? Are the descriptions of Heaven such that they present no attraction to you? Is Heaven a dreary, joyless place, not worth a thought? If you think so, certainly your Bible cannot be the same as mine. Surely I have read of it as a place where there is no pain, no sickness, no sorrow, no tears, no death. I cannot be mistaken on that point. Have I not read of golden streets and gates of pearl, of harps and crowns, and singing loud as the sound of many waters? Surely I have. O friend, the Heaven described in your Bible and mine is worth suffering a martyrdom to obtain. Then if it is so, why go to Hell?

If perdition's attractiveness, and Heaven's lack of attraction, are not the reasons for your resolution — then what are?

Is eternity a trifle in your estimation? Do you consider it a mere addenda to life, a thing only to be thought of when there is nothing else to occupy the mind — a mere postscript to life's letter? Is eternity a matter of so little importance, that it does not concern you whether you are forever damned or forever saved?
How sad the thought that the vast mass of mankind lives as if the few years on earth was the chief portion of its existence, and the eternal ages beyond are of secondary importance.
Let me try and arrest your attention by the thought of the boundlessness of your future life. I could better understand your indifference to salvation, or, as we are describing it tonight — your preference for eternal perdition — if the future state in either case was of only limited duration. But to risk the loss of a soul, when forever and forever is part of the contract — is almost sufficient to stagger belief, were there not so many sad witnesses to the fact!
Think, friend, that with the close of this life, closes all hope of any future alteration.
As death leaves you,
the judgment will find you, and
as the judgment leaves you, eternity will keep you!
O, eternity, eternity, what are you? What mind can grasp your immensity — what tongue can describe you rightly? O eternity, you "life-time of God," make your unknown ages eloquent with souls now. Tell them that if they are damned, it is without hope of rescue forever! Ask them, if in their resolution to die, they have reckoned you in the costs.
How will I give you any idea of what eternity is — how will I convey to your minds any true conception of the meaning of the word "forever"? I can onlyemploy the finite to illustrate the infinite — the limitable to describe the illimitable.
It was just the other day you watched the snowflakes as they fell in numbers that dazzled the eyes. Millions a minute seemed to whirl in eddies around you. They covered the ground — festooned the trees — though tiny in themselves, they mantled, by their countless multitudes, the earth for miles around.
Now suppose that only one flake melted in a thousand years; how long would it be before every vestige of the snow storm had passed away? The mind reels at such a course of time. We are almost tempted to exclaim "the time could never come, when for miles around there would be but one flake left, and then a thousand years must pass before that last one had vanished; the time is inconceivable."
Yet the time would come when the last flake had gone.
Now after a thousand such snowstorms had fallen and passed away — eternity would have only just commenced. No period of time, however vast, can bring the end one iota nearer. Eternity has no end!
Sinner, have you thought of all this? Or has the ocean of eternity, without a bottom or a shore, been thought of as a trifle, beside the drop in the bucket that you call life? Stop!! And with the waters of this ocean at your feet, listen to God's question: "Why will you die?"

I have one more question to ask, and then I will have exhausted all possible reasons I can think of for your determination. Do you consider your soul to be worthless?

Among your possessions, does that rank for nothing? If so, I can understand your willingness to have it lost, for men do not fret over the loss of what they do not value. You value your health, you value your home, you value your friends — but you set no value on your soul! Is it so?
Then let us see if that is not a lamentable error in judgment. Surely that which will outlive all the other possessions of a man, must be of some worth. When health has gone and death has come — your soul will still survive. When your home has gone to ruins, and the world has gone to ashes — the soul you set so little count on will still survive.
Nothing can destroy your soul;
nothing can even age it;
it is eternal as our God Himself.
Remember also, that if you count it of but little value, it has been differently estimated by one who ought to know, considering that he made it. Have you never read anything like this before, "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mat 16.26
Christ considers that the worth of one soul, outweighs the accumulated wealth of a universe. I would that you thought so too; but alas, in answer to the question, "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" You reply "Give me a little pleasure, give me a little frothy mirth, give me something of this world— and the devil may take my soul!" Friend, believe me, it is an awful bargain you are making, and one you will repent forever when it is too late!
Your soul is priceless in its value, that it was worth — so thought Jesus — a bloody sweat in Gethsemane, and a cruel death at Calvary. Then if these things are so, tell me, tell me now, "Why will you die?"

Thus far this evening's subject has been far more solemn than joyful. I have been obliged to dwell upon the dark side of the picture in order to clear my soul of responsibility. As watchman, I have seen the enemy coming, and I have endeavored to blow a blast of warning, so that if any of you are cut down by him, your blood may be upon your own head and not mine. Let us turn now to the joyous part of our subject.
 

III. The Text teaches a glorious truth, full of hope for lost sinners. If this text proclaims anything, it declares with trumpet-tongue that Hell is not unavoidable. This verse steps in the path of the sinner, throws a barrier before him, and argues with him to turn him from his fatal resolve. "Sinner," it seems to say, "why will you die, why will you go to Hell when you need not unless you determine it? Why make your eternal perdition unavoidable, when God has not?" O friends, what a joyful message this is which I have to tell! How could I not tell it to you!
But alas, what mortal tongue can utter words worthy of the theme; they should be words melting with tenderness, ringing with joy, flashing with earnestness.An escape is possible from Hell!! Why, such a message is enough to make a sick man forget his pain, and preach with joy. Hell is avoidable! It would be worth an angel's while to fly from Heaven to earth's remotest nook, to tell the news. Think for a moment what it means. It means that Hell may be forever and forever an unknown place to you. It means that you need never know what the unquenchable fire feels like, or hear the weeping and the wailing of those who gnash their teeth in agony. It means that it is possible for you to escape all the horror and despair summed up in that one word, "Damned!"

These thoughts burn within me like a fire — the immensity and the eternity of the eternal interests involved, well-near overwhelm me; and I find it true, that often when the heart is fullest, the lips can say the least. I feel as if I could but stand before this throng, and sob "Sinner, you need not, you need not be lost — Hell can yet be escaped!"
Yes, I would willingly come in your midst, and taking hold of the hand of him who is resolved to die, say, "Dear friend, will you be damned, when there is no occasion for it?" There are none present who are shut up in the steel prison house of doom, to be led forth, against their cries and prayers, to execution. If a man is saved, it is God's work from first to last. But if he is finally lost — his blood shall rest upon his own head — from the commencement to the close, his damnation has been his own!
But friends, how should you receive such a message? Surely if I ought to deliver it with earnestness, you ought to listen to it as for your life! Oh what a hateful thing sin is — that makes a man hear his own doom, and his possible mercy, with indifference! It would not be so if the life concerned was his natural one on earth.
In yonder cell there sits a man who has been tried and condemned by his country's laws. The day of execution draws near, and a shivering despair settles down upon the miserable wretch. I am allowed to be a messenger of hope and mercy to him. The bolt grates in the socket, and the lock springs back with a snap, and I stand before him. Placing my hand on his shoulder I whisper in his ear, "I have come to tell you that death may yet be averted and your life spared!" See the startle he gives, mark the imploring look in his eye, as starting to his feet he cries with a cry that makes the stone walls ring, "Is it true, I may yet be saved?" There is no indifference on his part as I tell him it is yet possible for him to leave the dungeon, escape death, and enjoy life.
Lost sinner, you are the man, and looking in your face I tell you tonight "Hell may be escaped — perdition may be avoided, and Heaven entered!" O cry out, "How?" I answer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved!"
A word or two only on the next glorious truth taught in the text, a truth which I have already rather anticipated: God does not desire the sinner's ruin. It is no pleasure to God to deliver over the sinner to his just doom — He takes no delight in Hell. The infinitely happy God does not find one of the sources of his happiness in the perdition of His creatures. He will punish them eternally if they die in their sin; His truth and justice require it; but he finds no joy in that punishment. The bottomless pit was never dug to gratify revenge, nor were the eternal fires kindled in order to give vent to blinded fury. Hell was never meant for man at all — but for the devil and his angels; and it is only if man prefers Satan to God on earth, that he must reap the consequence of his choice in eternity — by dwelling forever in the home of the one he has preferred.
God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, nor His Spirit into the world to seal men for destruction. It is they who, rejecting the Son and resisting the Spirit, make their own destruction certain. God has declared by an oath that He takes no pleasure in the death of a sinner. "As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked." Not only does God repudiate the idea of His finding pleasure in the death of the sinner — but he also declares He finds pleasure in their salvation: "but that the wicked turn from His way and live." Ezekiel 33.11. Let Gethsemane bear its witness — let Calvary add its deep "Amen."
How shall we now conclude? What can I say to arrest you in your course, and save you from its consequences? I will cry out, in the language of the text,"Turn, Turn!" I see tonight a multitude of immortal spirits rushing with the speed of time to eternal doom, of which they have no conception. I behold a number of mad souls choosing eternal damnation rather than eternal life. O, turn, turn! Why will you die?
Stop sinner! For your soul's sake — for Heaven's sake — for Hell's sake — stop! For eternity's sake, stop and turn!
Do you cry, "Turn where?" Why yonder, to the Rock of Ages. Hide yourself in the cleft of the rock — take shelter in the wounds of Jesus. Do not wait one moment — but escape for your life! Turn, Turn, Why will you Die?